Back in 2005, two of the world’s most gargantuan franchises combined to create a gaming phenomenon – it went on to spawn more than twenty similar titles spanning some of the most popular series in film and literature, and made more money than even Jabba the Hutt could spend in a lifetime. I’m of course talking about LEGO Star Wars. Fast forward to 2022, we have finally been delivered the Holy Grail of brick-based experiences from a galaxy far, far away – LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – an ambitious undertaking, in that it covers the plot of each of the nine mainline movie episodes in a single game!
At A Glance
|Positives||+ Relive the entire mainline franchise in trademark, tongue-in-cheek LEGO style |
+ Better signposting to unlockable elements
+ Enormous amount of optional content
|Negatives||– Camera can be a pain|
– No online multiplayer is let down
– Feels bloated and can get repetitive
|Price (When Reviewed)||£49.99|
|Our Playtime||25 hours|
|Available On||PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC|
Now, I’m not going to delve into the storyline of the movies – by this point, if you haven’t seen them then it’s likely for good reason, and honestly, I doubt any of those people will be reading this review anyway. The game begins granting you access to the first story in each of the three trilogies, and completing each movie opens up the next entry in the series. It’s a nice way to create at least a certain amount of structure to this enormous library, but there will be some who don’t see the need to lock their favourite movie (*cough* Jedi! *cough*) behind two other tales when you already know the plot.
The stories are told in trademark LEGO style, which is with a loving sense of setting mixed with a tongue-in-cheek irreverence that makes experiencing these familiar plotlines fun all over again. Some of the bittier parts of each story have been cut which helps streamline the experience, and there are so many fourth wall breaks and in-jokes between characters that I couldn’t help but grin my way through almost every cutscene. You get a real sense that this is a project that’s been crafted by true fans of the Star Wars franchise, and the nuanced jibing of these beloved movies and characters is easily as well-crafted as the famous Family Guy: Blue Harvest and Space Balls parodies.
I hadn’t played a LEGO: Star Wars game since the original debuted on PlayStation 2 back in 2005, and at first glance, not much has really changed in the formula, which actually isn’t a bad thing. As in previous entries, you play as an ever-changing host of characters, swapping between them as the story unfolds, but there’s almost always a choice of who you can control so that you can play as one of your more favoured characters. And added since the franchise’s inception are some elements that look to bolster the gameplay beyond the button-mashing free-for-all of the originals. There’s some new combo-based structure to the melee combat, modern camera and 3D shooter controls and some fun RPG-inspired character upgrades that certainly add a tonne of depth.
In story mode, the levels are pretty linear and see you rampaging through areas familiar to the franchise. You’re asked to slash and blast your way through tonnes of stormtroopers and droids before building helpful gadgets out of the scattered blocks in order to create cover, open doors and overcome obstacles. There’s a tonne (maybe too much) of this on offer as you march through the saga, along with some very fun airbourne sections mixed in, as you’d expect from any Star Wars title. Whooshing around in blocky X-Wings and blasting Tie Fighters into a shower of plastic debris is incredible fun and definitely helps break up the repetition a little. Once you’ve completed a level in story mode you unlock it in free play mode, allowing you to explore the area at your leisure, as well as allowing you to use any of your previously unlocked characters and their abilities to help you access all areas.
Sadly, for all the new elements that TT Games have introduced, one telltale problem remains – a clunky camera that plagued previous entries. Yes, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has introduced over the shoulder aiming that feels fresh and modern, but it still managed to consistently get up my nose whileI was navigating the myriad of spaceship corridors and tight arenas. It’s not a game breaking problem, but one that stood out as a noticeable annoyance as I battled my way across the galaxy.
Along the way you’re encouraged to collect studs and Kyber Bricks, which act as currency for upgrades, and hidden minikits, used to unlock ships for your collection. The number of unlockable characters and ships in the game is astronomical, and fans have an insane number of gameplay hours at their fingertips if they want to dedicate themselves to collecting everything on offer. And with so many unlockables on offer, I was glad to see the game offer some decent signposting in the form of purchasable rumours that act as hints on where to find optional items. The rumours are a great option to have since they offer you the chance to clean up a tricky level and streamline the high-and-low hunting, should you be willing to pay the price.
Most of the collectables are entirely optional and I was endlessly thankful that you’re not held at blaster-point to search for any more than you really want to. While fun, the gameplay does have a rather repetitive style, and it would have driven me insane had I been required to fight my way towards unlocking nearly 400 characters and 250 ships for anything more than my own amusement. In the end I put plenty of gameplay hours in and felt that the volume of collectables was unnecessary; I gave up even attempting to gather everything after just a few levels, and left with the impression that they’d been added simply to extend the length of the game into Ubisoft territory for “time of play” junkies alone.
Anyone who’s played a LEGO game before will tell you that you get the most out of them when playing alongside a friend, and that’s no different with The Skywalker Saga. It seems that 17 years haven’t dulled the fun of yelling at your buddy in goofy Star Wars quotes while annihilating Imperial forces, and I doubt that another 17 years would either – co-op play is incredible fun. In what seems like a Death Star sized misstep though, TT Games have opted to only allow couch co-op as an option – something I might have been able to advocate in the years prior to COVID, but one that seems to be needlessly limiting in a modern game with such major backing.
On a brighter note, the graphics and sound definitely do the Star Wars universe justice – with gleaming ship interiors and rugged bases depicted faithfully, albeit built from a billion LEGO bricks. The attention to detail in the ship and environment designs is fantastic, and it’s clear that the Travellers Tales rightly had access to a lot of LEGO source material as part of their design process. As in every officially licensed Star Wars game ever made, I can’t say enough good things about the soundtrack – the score is just awesome from top-to-toe and is pivotal to so many of the best moments of the game, just as it is to the movies. The voice-acting too is fantastic, and while not boasting many talents from the silver screen entries, does manage to pull in an impressive host of voice-actors from other Star Wars projects, such as Forces of Destiny and The Clone Wars.
When I was a kid we could only imagine how cool it would be to have toys of our favourite videogames, and parents in 2022 probably be wishing to turn back the clock, since LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga shows off some awesome close-up looks at real-life LEGO kits that will cost Anakin an arm and a leg to buy. Hopefully the videogame version will work as an alternative and not a gateway drug… I pray for their sake!
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a playful and colourful depiction of a galaxy far, far away, and one that boasts about as much play time as you’d ever want to get out of a single game should you be willing to endure some significant repetition in order to wring every drop out of it. With hilarious retellings of all nine movies and some new gameplay elements, there’s a lot to like, but clunky camera angles and the head-scratching decision to leave out online multiplayer hurts the overall impression. This might just be the definitive LEGO Star Wars game that fans are looking for, but since only Sith deal in absolutes, I’ll leave that judgement to the will of the council.
In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.